April 2, 2006

Media Competition: New Paradigms or Just Reemergence of Old Ones? [11:32 am]

Death by Smiley Face: When Rivals Disdain Profit

There is another breed of rival lurking online for traditional media, and it is perhaps the most vexing yet: call it purpose-driven media, with a shout-out to Rick Warren, the author of “A Purpose-Driven Life,” for borrowing his catchphrase.

These are new-media ventures that leave the competition scratching their heads because they don’t really aim to compete in the first place; their creators are merely taking advantage of the economics of the online medium to do something that they feel good about. They would certainly like to cover their costs and maybe make a buck or two, but really, they’re not in it for the money. By purely commercial measures, they are illogical. If your name were, say, Rupert or Sumner, they would represent the kind of terror that might keep you up at night: death by smiley face.

Probably the best-known practitioner is Craigslist.org, the online listing site. Although it is routinely described as a competitor with — and the bane of — newspaper classified ads, the site is mostly a free listings service that acts as a community resource.

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DataPoint: Disruptive Technology (2) [11:29 am]

Composing Music Using Apple Computer’s GarageBand Software

I’M not a musician, but I recently composed and recorded a song. More than that, in a Paul McCartneyesque fit of post-Beatles hubris, I played all the instruments and produced and engineered the entire thing, even though I have no experience producing and engineering anything more complicated than a Bombay martini.

[...]

There’s just one thing: I didn’t compose “Eventide” any more than Ashlee Simpson sang “Pieces of Me” on “Saturday Night Live.” The song sprang from computer-sampled snippets of musical instruments that I stitched together using Apple Computer’s GarageBand software. GarageBand is a denatured version of industry-standard recording software that allows amateurs to cobble together a song using nothing but the program’s digital instruments. You preview the samples from a Chinese-menu-like array, drag them into a virtual mixing console, push them this way and that, and voilà! The software automatically renders the composition into a tidy audio file that can be posted to Web sites like MySpace.com, which teems with thousands of MP3 files from would-be Coldplays and Alicia Keyses.

The process is so seamless and absorbing that I can’t really recall how “Eventide” came together. [...] It was like watching a Polaroid photograph develop, except that I could fuss with the image as it came into focus. By then I had stacked up seven instruments I didn’t know how to play into a song I didn’t know how to write.

Given my total inexperience at composing, the result should have sounded ridiculous; instead, it sounded pretty cool. [...]

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DataPoint: Disruptive Technology [11:26 am]

For all who though that Dean was somehow a one-shot deal: Internet Injects Sweeping Change Into U.S. Politics

This means, aides said, rethinking every assumption about running a campaign: how to reach different segments of voters, how to get voters to the polls, how to raise money, and the best way to have a candidate interact with the public. In 2004, John Edwards, a former Democratic senator from North Carolina and his party’s vice presidential candidate, spent much of his time talking to voters in living rooms in New Hampshire and Iowa; now he is putting aside hours every week to videotape responses to videotaped questions, the entire exchange posted on his blog.

“The effect of the Internet on politics will be every bit as transformational as television was,” said Ken Mehlman, the Republican national chairman. “If you want to get your message out, the old way of paying someone to make a TV ad is insufficient: You need your message out through the Internet, through e-mail, through talk radio.”

Michael Cornfield, a political science professor at George Washington University who studies politics and the Internet, said campaigns were actually late in coming to the game. “Politicians are having a hard time reconciling themselves to a medium where they can’t control the message,” Professor Cornfield said. “Politics is lagging, but politics is not going to be immune to the digital revolution.”

If there was any resistance, it is rapidly melting away.

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